The Q&A Archives: Rejuvenating Fruit Trees

Question: I have two fruit pear and one apple. They are both well-established trees but were not taken care of after they were planted. When is the best time to prune them and what can I do to make them bear fruit better? The pear tree had only two pears on it last year. Any advice for the older trees to make them into healthy hearty fruit bearing trees again?

Answer: Late winter to early spring is ideal to prune fruit trees, when the temperature is above freezing. You should be able to renew these fruit trees. Start by pruning out all dead branches, any branches that cross each other (their rubbing together may cause wounds which are open to insects and disease), and the suckers or watersprouts. That's all defined and easy. Now the challenge. If the trees are pretty old, they are probably thick with branches. They need to be heavily thinned for good air circulation and fruit production. Your trees may have been trained early on to a central leader. The procedure is difficult to describe, but go to for an excellent extension bulletin with pictures on pruning and training. Alternately, contact your local library or your local extension service for information.

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